Legislators approve student code writing grant, move discussion of parents’ access bill to next week - AZEdNews
Sections    Tuesday March 28th, 2023

Legislators approve student code writing grant, move discussion of parents’ access bill to next week

The House Education Committee Discusses Senate Bill 1470 On Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Photo Courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

The House Education Committee approved a bill that would create a grant program to fund code writing programs for Native American students, while the Senate Education Committee moved discussion to next week on a bill that would allow parents access to all educational and medical records of their child.

On March 2, a bill failed on the House floor that would have allowed the attorney general to investigate any action taken by a school district governing board at the request of a state legislator who alleges the action violates state law or the Arizona Constitution and withhold 10% of the district’s Classroom Site Fund money for that violation.

House Education approves grants for student code writing programs

The Arizona House Education Committee gave a do pass recommendation today to Senate Bill 1470, sponsored by Sen. T.J. Shope with co-sponsors Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales and Sen. Christine Marsh, would have the Arizona Department of Education’s Indian Education Advisory Council evaluate grant applications and make grant award recommendations to the department for code writing programs for Native American students in high school and work with industry partners to develop  internships and programs for students who complete the program curriculum.

Arizona Capitol Television: House Education Committee Meeting – 3/8/2022 

The bill would also provide training for teachers in the curriculum, develop assessments, install audiovisual distance learning equipment at key sites to maximize the number of students participating and submit an annual report on the program before Sept. 1 each year to the AZ Dept. of Education, Indian Education Advisory Council and the Arizona Senate President and Arizona Speaker of the House.

There were no speakers signed in to speak on the bill, and the sponsor of the bill was unable to make it to the committee meeting, so the committee went directly to vote on it.

Senate Bill 1470 was given a do pass recommendation with a vote of 9 aye, 1 nay and 0 absent and 0 not voting, and will head to the Senate floor for a vote next.

Video by Mingson Lau/ AZEdNews: Legislative Legit: ESAs and Vouchers 3/8/22

Parents’ access to school records bill discussion moved to next week

Next week, the Senate Education Committee will discuss House Bill 2161, sponsored by Rep. Steve Kaiser, which would allow parents access to all written and electronic educational and medical records of their child attending a public school, require parental consent in writing before any medical test of their child, and make it illegal for any school employee to withhold information from parents that is relevant to the physical, emotional, or mental health of their child.

HB 2161 would also require the school to get written consent from parents before administering any survey that asks the student personal information such as critical appraisals of another person with whom the pupil has a close relationship, gun or ammunition ownership, illegal, antisocial or self-incriminating behavior, income or other financial information, legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as relationships with a lawyer, physician or member of the clergy, medical history or medical information, mental health history or mental health information, political affiliations, opinions or beliefs, pupil biometric information, the quality of home interpersonal relationships, religious practices, affiliations or beliefs, self-sufficiency as it pertains to emergency, disaster and essential services interruption planning, sexual behavior or attitudes, gender expression, perceptions or stereotypes, and voting history.

Arizona Capitol Television: Senate Education Committee Meeting – 3/8/22

Under HB 2161, parents would submit a written request for access to these records to their child’s school principal or the school district superintendent, and fine a school $500 for each violation and may file a lawsuit in the courts.

Rep. Kaiser’s House floor amendment to HB 2161 would mandate that each governing board develop a procedure for reporting violations of statutory parental rights and would require a written warning for an employee who violated parental rights, two days suspension without pay and a civil penalty of $500 for a second instance in the same year, and assess a civil penalty of $1,000 and subject the employee to suspension and dismissal for a third or subsequent offense in the same year, and requires the AZ Dept. of Education to develop statewide training for public school personnel on state laws regarding statutory parental rights in public education. Then another House floor amendment by Rep. Kaiser removed all those provisions.

different House floor amendment by Rep. Jeff Weninger clarifies that a school employee may withhold information about a child’s physical, emotional or mental health from the child’s parent if the information is subject to the duty to report abuse statute.

The amendment also directs the State Board of Education to impose the civil penalties and deposit that money into the Parental Rights Fund.

Bill to withhold school district funding for law violations fails

Last week, House Bill 2009 failed on the House Floor with a vote of 26 ayes, 32 nays and 2 not voting.

HB 2009, sponsored by Rep. Steve Kaiser, would have allowed the attorney general to investigate any action taken by a school district governing board or the governing body of a town, city or county at the request of a state legislator who alleges the action violates state law or the Arizona Constitution. 

If a school district did not resolve the violation within 30 days, HB 2009 would have required the Arizona Dept. of Education to withhold 10% of the monthly Classroom Site Fund monies from the school district, but the school district could not reduce pay or benefits for teachers, instructional or classified staff in any manner during that time.

Arizona Capitol Television video: House Floor Session on HB 2009 – 3/2/2022

An amendment by Rep. John Kavanaugh to HB 2009 removed charter schools from being subject to the bill, required the state legislator to first provide written notice of the violation to the chief executive officer or governing body of the town, city or county and give them 60 days to resolve the violation. 

House floor amendment by Rep. Kaiser also removed charter schools from being subject to the bill, specifies the Attorney General may investigate any written policy, requires the Attorney General to provide a written report of findings, and requires the Attorney General to file a special action with the Arizona Supreme Court to resolve the issue.

“If you vote no on this, you’re saying you’re OK with school districts breaking state law, policies and procedures that are voted on by their board, enacted by their superintendent,” Rep. Kaiser said. “I urge you to vote yes on this. Thank you.”

Then House Education Chair Michelle Udall said, “This bill does take money from the Classroom Site Fund. It is important that we hold people accountable, especially if they’re breaking the law; however, we should be holding the people who are breaking the law accountable not the children or the other adults they are in charge of.”

“This takes money from the Classroom Site Fund. These are the things that the Classroom Site Fund can be used on: classroom size reduction, teacher pay, assessment intervention programs, teacher development, dropout prevention, teacher liability insurance or student support services,” Education Chair Udall said.

“If you have a school board or administration that is breaking the law, you’re going to increase classroom sizes, decrease teacher pay, cut out assessment intervention programs, decrease teacher development, stop doing dropout prevention, decrease teacher liability insurance or cut out student support services, according to this bill,” Education Chair Udall said. “That’s unacceptable. With that I vote no.”

Rep. John Fillmore said, “I’m aghast that we would have people on the negative side of this, because alls we are saying is that if we have statutes and laws that we have passed, they should be followed.”

Then Rep. Fillmore voted yes on the bill.

Rep. David Cook said “The funding mechanism that needed to follow this bill is not there, and it in fact, the funding mechanism would not be teacher pay but would in fact be the dollars that are going into the classroom. As someone who’s been here going on six years that has been fighting along with the members of this body to fund the classrooms, I can’t vote for this at this time. I vote no.”